Christmas has come and gone, and all that stands between us and 2013 is a few days of Christmas leftovers and enjoying presents. As we enter next year, we must take stock of where we have been and determine where we are going. This will come in four parts: football, men’s basketball, men’s hockey, and all other sports. Today, an assessment of the football program entering 2013.
Boston College football was a source of unending consternation in 2012, and much of 2011 as well. It is practically mind-boggling to consider the amount of change Eagles fans have seen since we last occupied this date on the calendar. Then, we had been told by Gene DeFilippo that coach Frank Spaziani was the “best coach” he’d seen in his 15 years at BC and the program was seemingly committed to doom. Heading into the 2012 campaign, optimism was tempered: according to Soaring to Glory preseason poll results, only 59% of fans expected to go from 4-8 to bowl-eligibility, and just 35% expected an overall winning record in the regular season. Typically, hope springs eternal at the start of a season, but a sizable amount of pessimism was shown in that 41% expected the team to be about the same as 2011 or worse, and unfortunately, the plurality was correct.
The 2012 campaign unraveled quickly, and for the second-straight year, the Eagles began the season 1-6. After briefly showing some life with a win over Maryland, BC went in the tank, losing ten games for the first time since 1978.
Now, neither DeFilippo nor Spaziani are around to oversee the reconstruction of this once-proud program in 2013. New athletic director Brad Bates came in October, but it seemed clear at DeFilippo’s retirement in August that nothing short of a dream season would save Spaziani’s job. The coach did not sufficiently impress Bates, and now he has his own head man running the football team: Steve Addazio, formerly of Temple.
As with any new coach long before his on-the-field tenure begins, especially just several weeks after being hired, it is difficult to evaluate Addazio. After all, we will be well into the second half of 2013 before anyone sees what his team can do. In the interim, there are only two measures anyone can use to judge the new head coach and give some determination as to where the program is going: the quality of the recruiting and the quality of the coaching staff.
On recruiting, there have been two notable decommits so far: Michael Geiger (K) and LeShun Daniels (RB). Some loss of recruits is to be expected after a coaching change, but two is not necessarily a substantial number. There have been reports that Addazio and his staff have worked hard on both keeping the remainder of the 2013 class in tact while trying to round it out with other possibilities. This should be treated as an “incomplete” for now, at least until signing day and perhaps until Addazio gets to do a full recruiting class of his own next year.
The quality of the staff assembled is something we can evaluate now, as it has essentially been filled out, with a few exceptions. Probably the most notable assistant hire so far has been Don Brown, new defensive coordinator. Brown, a highly successful coordinator at other collegiate stops, is known for his aggressive style of defense, starkly contrasting with well over a decade of bend-but-don’t-break defense under Spaziani. Whether or not the defense succeeds in executing on those plays, there is a great sense that the mentality is changing and BC will go after the play rather than letting the play come to them. Other staff hires have engendered ambivalence while others have won praise, but the overall review of the new Addazio staff is generally favorable.
As the football program carries on into 2013, there is some reason for cautious optimism. A program with declining win totals each of the last four seasons is not going to turn around overnight, but even with that said, the level of competence on the BC sideline has increased and the team is looking forward to the new challenge of rebuilding. Even with a senior quarterback in Chase Rettig, having to start over from scratch is where Eagles football sits as we start the new year. It will not be easy and it is far too soon to determine if Addazio will succeed or fail, but at the very least, the feeling of infinite despair that surrounded the program at the start of 2012 is not present at the beginning of 2013.